French workers march against pension reform

Paris, Dhu-AlQa’dah 4, 1434, Sep 10, 2013, SPA — Thousands of people demonstrated across France on
Tuesday to protest planned reforms to the cash-strapped pension
system, dpa reported.

From Marseille to Lyon, Nantes and Toulouse, workers marched to
protest the government’s proposal to progressively increase the
number of years of contributions required for a full pension from
41.5 currently to 43.

The four trade unions behind the day of protests and strikes also
planned a big rally later in Paris. Only minor transport disruptions
were reported.

The deficit in France’s generous pension system has ballooned in
recent years. Left untouched, the shortfall is predicted to reach 20
billion euros (28 billion dollars) by 2020, prompting demands for
corrective action from the European Commission.

But reforming the system has been a minefield for successive
governments.

More than 1 million people took to the streets in 2010 when former
president Nicolas Sarkozy increased the minimum pension age from 60
to 62. He prevailed in the end, but the weeks of strikes and protests
damaged the economy.

President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government has taken a
more consensual approach, consulting at length with trade unions on
reforms that are widely seen as timid. The government is to present a
bill on September 18.

The modest scale of Tuesday’s protests reflected the modest scale
of the reforms. Moderate trade unions refused to endorse the
demonstrations.
–SPA
17:05 LOCAL TIME 14:05 GMT